Comet and Novell 5.0


Note: This review was written by Keith Smith of Custom Software Solutions in Washington, Pennsylvania.

For the past two months, I've been conducting performance trials using the TEST4 bench-mark test program supplied by Signature Systems. Selling and installing PC-based systems successfully requires a detailed knowledge of the hardware and software you'll be installing at your client's site and making it perform optimally. Gaining that knowledge is difficult in that faster PC's, revised operating systems, competing network platforms, competing browsers and numerous hardware options are constantly being introduced.

This write-up describes what I've run into installing a Novell 5.0 server and what impact it has had on TEST4 bench-mark tests.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU BEGIN INSTALLING NOVELL 5.0 OPERATING SYSTEM:

 1. Make sure 64 meg of memory is installed. I started out with 32 thinking
    this was plenty since my Novell 4.11 server has this and works just
    fine. There seems to be many more NLM's loaded with the 5.0 release and
    they require memory.

 2. Get a SVGA adapter board for the console screen. In the past, the
    console was "green screen" and didn't require an advanced adapter card.
    Novell 5.0 is GUI'ized with a Windows look and feel, via JAVA applets,
    on the main console server screen and makes use of mouse controls. You
    can "hot-key" between the traditional server and GUI screens using
    ALT-ESC.

 3. Please read up on NDS (Novell Directory Services) and plan accordingly,
    especially if other 4.11 servers exist on the network. On my first
    attempt installing Novell 5.0, I tried to create two distinct NDS trees
    for no-good reasons and couldn't log into both servers at the same time.
    This doesn't mean that you can't do this, but at the time I couldn't get
    it to work.

 4. If at all possible, only use "high-end" Pentium processors. I would
    suggest 200 MHz and up with 2+ G-byte disc drives.

 5. Most mother-boards come with PCI slots. My server installation wouldn't
    proceed normally without making sure the PCI-NIC card was in slot 1.
    Read the motherboard manual, sometimes the 1st PCI slot is leftmost and
    others it's the right-most slot.

 6. Make sure NIC card, SVGA card and mouse all work BEFORE installing
    Novell 5.0.

 7. Connect Novell 5.0 server to rest of network if multiple Novell file
    servers are used, especially if there're 4.11 servers. During the
    installation process, communication goes back and forth between the
    new 5.0 and other 4.11 servers.

 8. When trying to create the DOS partition using MS-DOS 6.22 FDISK, I
    couldn't create a partition greater than 30 meg. I decided to use
    Novell's DR DOS 7.0 and it's FDISK to get around this problem. The
    DOS partition on a server disc should be your memory size plus an
    additional 50 meg. When Novell performs a memory dump, the files get
    created on the DOS partition. I made mine 110 meg large.

THINGS TO DO AFTER NOVELL 5.0 OPERATING SYSTEM IS INSTALLED:

 1. Do not immediately install the new 5.0 client software, try logging in
    with your current client software first. If multiple Novell servers need
    to be logged into, can you do it? Perform a right-click on Network
    Neighborhood (Win-95) and review the mappings, are they right?

 2. After preforming the above, please review the new client software. The
    following are not compatible with the new 5.0 client software and Win/95:

    . Microsoft Client for "Netware" networks
    . Microsoft file and printer sharing for "Netware" networks
    . Microsoft Service for NDS (Novell Directory Services)
    . Novell Netware workstation shell 3.x (NETX)
    . Novell Netware workstation shell 4.x (VLM)
    . Novell IPX/ODI protocol

 3. After installing Novell 5.0 client software, right-click on Network
    Neighborhood. Review new NETWARE options in menu. If you need to reset
    drive mappings, do it here and click on "Re-connect at login" for each
    drive mapping you require at login.

 4. Install and load COMETSRV and review TEST4 timings. I think anything
    below 10 seconds is excellent. My local system gets approx 2.6 seconds.

THINGS THAT SURPRISED ME ONCE NOVELL 5.0 WAS UP AND RUNNING:

 1. I have a Novell 4.11 server that has a Pentium 166 MHz with 32 meg of
    memory. It's TEST4 times are approx 2.4 seconds. The Novell 5.0 server
    has a Pentium MMX 233 MHz with 64 meg of memory and it's TEST4 times
    (on my system) are .2 seconds slower. I had hoped the new server would
    be faster. Reviewing the number of NLM programs loaded on the 5.0 server
    verses the 4.11 server was a surprise. The 5.0 server had 112 NLM's and
    the 4.11 server had 48.

    I've only had the 5.0 server for two days, so I don't know what the
    additional NLM's are. Part of it is due to the GUI interface.

 2. Using the GUI'ized server utilities was surprisingly simply and straight
    forward. I'll have to zero in on these more in the future.

 3. Novell 5.0 can co-habitate with Win-95 peer-to-peer, Novell 3.12 and
    4.11, no adverse problems.

 4. That I managed to get it all working within 18 hours of starting the
    installation from scratch, complete with backups and restores of data.

 5. There's a neat feature that lets you connect your internet modem to one
    of the serial ports on the server and a re-director at the client-side
    sends all COM port I/O onto the server. Multiple clients can share a
    single internet modem connection.

 6. A new file system called NSS (Novell Storage Services) that's something
    like the traditional Novell File System but modular and with much larger
    storage capacities. Both the traditional and NSS file systems are 
    compatible (I haven't tested this yet) and offers the following:

    . File sizes upward to 8 terabytes
    . Maximum # of files per server is 8 trillion
    . Maximum # of open files same time is 1 million
    . Maximum volume size is 8 terabytes
    . Faster File I/O
    . Much faster volume mounting
    . Drive mapping is the same as before
    . Memory requirements to do all this is less

SUMMARY OF NOVELL 5.0

1. The biggest change you'll notice is the GUI installation procedures and
   administrative utilities on the server console, using mouse clicks.

2. NOVELL 5.0 uses only two protocols IP and/or IPX with added emphasis 
   on IP.

3. The new NSS file system has created a new "upper" limit with regard to 
   the size and number of volumes, directories and files. Since it's stated 
   within the supplied documentation that file I/O is faster, I'm going to 
   try this approach using COMETSRV.NLM and see what improvements can be 
   gained. To date, I've just installed/tested the traditional Novell File 
   System.

4. You should review/understand how to build your own NDS (Novell Directory
   Services) tree. There are GUI utilities to assist you with plenty of HELP
   documents. It was stated over and over again, that for larger 
   installations an improperly built NDS tree will yield slower performance.


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